December 6, 2008

Yale Athletic Health Fair and Community Dinner Successful at Promoting Healthy Living

Dec. 6, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The first Yale Athletic Health Fair and Community Dinner took place Saturday night at the Lanman Center in Payne Whitney Gymnasium and was an outstanding success that helped promote a healthy lifestyle to both children and parents. The event, which was planned by the former Yale baseball player Josh Cox '08 and the Yale Athletics department, focused on providing information to the Yale and New Haven communities on healthy eating and lifestyle choices.

The event, which was attended by more than 100 youth and adults from the New Haven community, included a variety of activities centered around the common theme of healthy living. Working together with area businesses and organizations, the event started off with five stations focused on different aspects of healthy lifestyles. A representative from Shaw's supermarket gave a shopping demonstration on how to shop in a price conscious manner while focusing on buying nutritious food that provides sustainable energy. Vanessa Jefferson, a diabetes specialist from the Yale School of Nursing, explained how to live a lifestyle that will help prevent the spread of diabetes. Building upon this knowledge, a cooking demonstration that showed how to eat in a healthy manner was put on by Culinary Concerts Caterers. Exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle was also emphasized, with the attendees having the opportunity to participate in the Dance, Dance Revolution game, a great method to exercise in a fun manner indoors. Subway presented information and samples of its healthy sandwich options while Lesser Evil Snacks presented on its new snack alternative that allows healthy eating without the negative dietary elements frequently found in junk foods.

The youth in attendance also had the opportunity to learn more about agriculture and how healthy food is produced. On a field trip to the Yale Sustainable Food Project Farm, the youths had the opportunity to learn about farming and then were able to pick carrots, which they then were able to eat.

Cox felt the trip to the farm was an especially good experience for those in attendance.

"I think that it was great that the kids had the opportunity to go to the Yale Sustainable Food Project Farm and learn about vegetables and carrots and how they are fun and taste good as well," Cox said.

Following the field trip to the farm and the stations on healthy living in the Lanman Center, the event concluded with a dinner that was made using healthy ingredients. A panel discussion during dinner discussed food policy and healthy eating. The panel emphasized how it is always important to be an educated consumer that pays attention to food and advertising in a critical manner to ensure that a healthy diet is followed.

The event, which was also attended by Yale students, employees, and athletic department employees was a good way for the Yale Athletic Department to make a lasting and integral contribution to the way that New Haven citizens live.

Assistant Athletic Director of Development and Outreach Alison Cole '99 was pleased with the event and its contribution to the New Haven community.

"I think that it was a great event for the New Haven community to learn about healthy lifestyles," Cole said. "I personally learned a lot about healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle and we had lots of help with the event from Squash Haven and other members of the community. We would like Yale Athletics to be an integral part of the New Haven community as a positive influence that goes beyond sporting events and believe that this event was a good way to promote the healthy lifestyle we believe in."

Following dinner, the attendees had the opportunity to see the Bulldog men's hockey team in action against Union.

Cox, who has worked on the event since September was pleased with the outcome and hopes that it continues in the future in an even larger way.

"I was very happy with turn out and pleased with the way the event went," Cox said. "When I looked into the parent's eyes and saw them engaged in the panel discussion during dinner, it made me happy because we were having an impact on their lives in promoting healthy living. I hope that everyone takes away two or three small things from the event about ways to be healthier because these small things make a difference. I learned useful ways to eat healthily in a cheap manner."

Community support and assistance with the event was critical to the event's success, Cox said.

"Folks in the Yale and outside community have been phenomenal with helping out," Cox said. "From students to members of the Yale Nursing School, they have been great helping out. It isn't their job, but they put a lot into the event. I think the event can become a mainstay event of the outreach program as there is lot of valuable information available at the event."

The event was just one of many ways that Yale Athletics contributes to the New Haven community. Other outreach projects include the National Youth Sports Program, Yale Youth Days and the Bulldog Buddies Mentoring Program.

Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity